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Tag: sexual harassment

FBI Pledges More Aggressive Response to Sexual Misconduct in Its Ranks

By Steve Neavling

The FBI said it’s taking serious steps to address sexual harassment in its ranks after a media report revealed the bureau mishandled misconduct allegations against high-ranking officials. 

An Associated Press investigation in 2020 found that at least six senior FBI officials have been accused of sexual misconduct in the past five years and that none was disciplined. 

FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate told the AP that the bureau is establishing a 24/7 tip line and more aggressively following up on misconduct allegations.

Abbate said he has a stern message for employees who engage in sexual misconduct: “we’re coming for them.”

“That’s a strong approach, a forceful shift and we mean it. And it’s coming from the top,” Abbate said. “Individuals who engage in this type of misconduct don’t belong in the FBI and they certainly should not have supervisory oversight of others. Period.”

The AP reports:

Among the changes FBI officials detailed to AP in a series of recent interviews was a round-the-clock tip line that provides a centralized mechanism to report abuse, though they would not say how many calls it has received. They also cited a working group of senior executives to review policies and procedures on harassment and victim support, and faster action to investigate allegations and fire or at least demote employees found to have engaged in misconduct to ensure they have no path to management.

To address chronic concerns that the FBI makes it difficult and intimidating for victims to come forward, the bureau is more broadly spreading the word in online and internal communications about where victimized employees can report allegations. And the FBI’s Victim Services Division, which until recently had focused on aiding victims of federal crimes outside the bureau, has been extending the same level of support to employees who are victims of internal misconduct.

Former Head of FBI’s Albany Field Office Sexually Harassed 8 Women, According to OIG

James Hendricks, former special agent of the FBI’s Albany Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

A former special agent in charge of the FBI’s Albany Field Office in New York sexually harassed eight female subordinates, according to the Justice Department’s internal watchdog. 

James Hendricks’ harassment was so egregious and frequent that his colleagues called him a “skilled predator,” the Office of Inspector General concluded in a report obtained by The Associated Press.

Hendricks, 50, was tapped to lead the Albany Field Office in July 2018 and quietly stopped working for the bureau last year.  

Hendricks, who writes a law enforcement blog, told investigators he did nothing wrong and blamed his accusers of misjudging his actions or exaggerating his behavior. He did not respond to AP’s requests for an interview. 

“It’s an ugly, ugly laundry list of things that were said, and that’s really hurtful to me and it really just disappoints me,” he was quoted as telling investigators.

The FBI declined to comment on the case but said the bureau “maintains a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment and is committed to fostering a safe work environment where all of our employees are valued, protected and respected.”

After interviewing more than a dozen FBI officials, investigators said Hendricks’ harassment began at FBI headquarters, where he served as a section chief in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, the position he held just before he was promoted to head the Albany Field Office. Two of his accusers were in Washington and six were in Albany. 

Investigators said Hendricks gawked at women, touched them inappropriately, and made sexually suggestive comments.  

Ex-Special Agent in Charge of Albany Field Office Accused of Sexually Harassing Subordinates

James Hendricks, former special agent of the FBI’s Albany Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

James N. Hendricks, the former special agent in charge of the FBI’s Albany Field Office, is accused of sexually harassing eight subordinate employees and creating a hostile work environment for another employee, according to an Inspector General’s Office obtained by The Albany Times Union.

The IG says the harassment happened while Hendricks was serving as chief of the Countermeasures Operation Section in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate at the bureau’s headquarters in Washington D.C.

Hendricks was tapped to lead the Albany Field Office in July 2018 and stopped working for the bureau earlier this year.

The FBI declined to discuss the allegations.

“We don’t have anything more to add, other than the FBI is committed to fostering a work environment where all of our employees are valued and respected,” an FBI spokesperson said. “We have a zero tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment.”

The Times Union couldn’t reach Hendricks, 50, for comment.

Suit Alleging Sexual Harassment at FBI’s Training Academy Adds 17th Woman

Training academy in Quantico, Va., via FBI

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A female FBI trainee has become the 17th woman to claim she was sexually harassed at the bureau’s training academy in Quantico, Va.

The Florida woman who was discharged from the training academy joined a lawsuit that alleges the academy is a “good-old-boy network” that exposes women to a hostile work environment, inappropriate jokes and sexual advances beginning in 2015.

The lawsuit was amended to include the unidentified woman’s accusations, The Washington Times reports.

The trainee alleges her male supervisors effectively discharged her by issuing numerous situations known as “suitability notations,” which instructors hand out for issues ranging from insubordination to inability to complete a task.

The suit, filed in May, claims some of the women were discriminated against based on their race or disabilities. One African American trainee alleges an instructor called her “spaghetti head” because of her braids.

The lawsuit zeroed in on the mock town known as Hogan’s Alley, where trainees learn about tactical training with fake criminals and terrorists. This phase of training resulted in many women being kicked out of the academy.

At the time of the suit, seven of the 16 women still worked for the FBI.

The women are asking for more female training instructors, an examination of the training evaluation process and $300,000 each for emotional stress.

The FBI has declined to publicly comment on the case.

Border Patrol Agent Accused of Sexually Harassing Woman Whose Son Was in Custody

Via CBP

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

An undocumented Guatemalan woman in California alleges that a Border Patrol agent sexually harassed her while she was awaiting news about her 12-year-old son being held in custody at a detention center, The Washington Post reports.

In a complaint against CBP, the 48-year-old woman says the agent exploited her vulnerability and began conversing with her on Facebook. But instead of learning more about her son’s situation, she said the agent forced her to watch him masturbate.

Her 12-year-old son was captured trying to cross the border in April, hoping to reunite with his mother, who was working as a housekeeper and sending money back to her family. The boy was placed in custody at a Border Patrol station in Clinton, Texas, where agents contacted the mother to tell her about her son.

That’s when the mother came into contact with the Border Patrol agent.
Here’s how the Post described a 25-minute Facebook Messenger chat:

The man appeared to be lying on a bed, with the camera aimed at the lower half of his body. She could see his dark brown shorts, legs and bare feet.

She thought it strange and asked to see his face. He flashed the camera upward for a moment before settling it again on his shorts.

He told her about his family life, a failed relationship, how he attended church. Then he asked whether she was single.

She demurred … He asked her whether there were people nearby.

When she said there were not, he slipped his hand inside his shorts and appeared to start masturbating, she said.

“‘Look at me. Look at me,’ ” she remembered him pleading when she looked away. “ ‘Do you like it?’ ”

At that point, she said her phone died. Afraid the agent would retaliate against her son, she reached out to an immigration legal-aid group, which filed her complaint with CBP.

The boy said the agent was cruel and threatening. He said the agent told children they would “regret coming to this country.” He described unsanitary, overcrowded and inhumane conditions.

FBI Training Academy Under Fire over ‘Disturbing’ Claims of Gender Discrimination

FBI academy, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

House Judiciary Committee leaders are requesting the Justice Department’s internal watchdog investigate the FBI’s training academy after 16 women accused the bureau of gender discrimination.

The women claimed in a lawsuit filed last month that they were disproportionately disciplined and were subjected to a male-biased review process and overt sexual discrimination at the academy in Quantico, Va.

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and ranking Republican Douglas Collins, R-Ga., sent a letter to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, saying the allegations were “disturbing” and “require an investigation into the FBI’s training and selection practices for new agents,” The Washington Post reports.

“If true, such conduct cannot be tolerated,” the lawmakers wrote. “The selection process employed by the FBI must be free from discrimination on the basis of factors such as gender and race, and individuals hired to these important positions should reflect the diversity of our country.”

Horowitz’s office declined to comment.

According to the lawsuit, the women were discharged, but seven still work at the FBI in other capacities.

“Because of the FBI’s history of tolerating the Good Old Boy Network, the subjective evaluations by these male instructors result in female trainees being written up and subsequently dismissed at a rate significantly and disproportionately higher than their male counterparts,” the lawsuit alleges.

Report Slams Justice Department for Inappropriate Handling of Sexual Misconduct Cases

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is increasingly mishandling sexual harassment complaints and often failing to properly discipline government employees who behave inappropriately, according to the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General.

The report, which called on “high level action,” citied examples of some employees receiving mild forms of discipline and even later getting bonuses or performance awards, the Washington Post reports

The number of sexual misconduct allegations has increased since 2012 and include senior officials.

“We’re talking about presidential appointees, political appointees, FBI special agents in charge, U.S. attorneys, wardens, a chief deputy U.S. marshal, a U.S. marshal assistant director, a deputy assistant attorney general,” DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said.

Key Player in Russia Probe Cited for Misconduct As a Former Prosecutor

Greg Bower, FBI's top liaison for Congress during probe of Russia.

Greg Bower, FBI’s top liaison for Congress during probe of Russia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Greg Bower, a former top prosecutor who currently is the FBI’s top liaison with Congress during its investigation into Russian election meddling, has been cited for misconduct in an 8-year-old sex discrimination case.

While Bower was in charge of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada from January 2008 to October 2009, a former female prosecutor was subjected to sexual discrimination and retaliation, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

An administrative judge said Brower acted hostilely toward a prosecutor after she alleged he had made a sexist comment.

“While acts of discrimination and retaliation are no doubt common within the federal service, it is extremely rare to see such a finding against the U.S. attorney’s office, which is charged with upholding the laws of this country,” said Las Vegas attorney Adam Levine, who has represented clients in the federal equal employment opportunity process. “If any agency should be aware of the prohibition against retaliation, it is the U.S. attorney’s office.”

Then-FBI Director James Comey hired Bower as deputy counsel last year.